Dunster Village

Dunster Village

Dunster is a village of just over 800 people lying on the north-eastern edge of Exmoor National Park, close to the Bristol Channel. Its main attraction is the castle which has been here for a thousand years, and for 600 of those, it belonged to the Luttrell family who gave it to the National Trust in 1976.

Naturally, many of the visitors come to see the castle, and I intend to write a separate post about it later; but for now, I just want to write a short introduction to the village, which is worth a visit in itself.

The High Street looking towards the Conygar Tower

There’s no denying that Dunster attracts tourists, and the High Street, which is the main thoroughfare through the village, is also the main road between Dunster and Tiverton, and like roads everywhere these days, seems to be busier than it used to be, but don’t let all this put you off because there are any number of quieter corners of the village, and the beautiful Exmoor countryside is only a short distance away: It goes without saying, that if you can choose a quieter time to come, then the experience will be all the better for it.

Nearby Exmoor Countryside

Anybody who reads my blogs will know that I like to delve into the past, but I’m not going to do that here, because Dunster is just a nice village to wander around without having to think too much.

The only thing of consequence in Dunster’s history (apart from the castle) is the fact that it was an important cloth centre which reached its peak in the 16th century, and the only reason I’m even bothering to mention this, is because at the opposite end of the High Street to the castle is a most impressive Yarn Market which dates from 1609.

The Yarn Market

Walking down through the High Street, you’ll find some interesting shops which even I don’t mind looking at. My blogging friend, Alli Templeton (whose excellent web page called Medieval Wanderings can be found here) will no doubt like the Medieval Gallery, but my particular favourite is the art gallery run by Maurice Bishop in Castle Hill. It’s one of those places that I could spend all afternoon wanting to buy everything, and come out with nothing (sometimes).

Instead of walking up to the castle, bear right into Church Street, which is named after the priory Church of St. George, where you can wander through to the lovely Memorial Garden and the nearby Dovecote and Tithe Barn (not open to the public).

The Memorial Gardens and Dovecote

Church Street leads into West Street and if you keep going down to Park Street on the left-hand side it will take you to Gallox Bridge, a packhorse bridge of which there are several in this part of the county.

West Street with Exmoor beckoning behind

We’ll need to re-trace our steps back towards the village, but if you take the next turning right into Mill Lane, it will lead to a working water mill (owned by the National Trust), and a great place to stop for a cream tea at the Water Mill Tea Gardens.

Dunster Water Mill Tea Gardens

I haven’t covered every nook and cranny in Dunster, but as you can see, it isn’t very big, but big enough to spend a good couple of hours in before you visit the castle, but I suggest you leave visiting Maurice Bishop’s gallery until after you visit the castle, otherwise you might not end up visiting the castle at all.

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21 thoughts on “Dunster Village

  1. America On Coffee

    A very interesting share Easymalc. A thousand years is a quite a distance back. There are so many tales about England and yarn spinners, i find your shared historical setting captivating. Thanks for sharing and have a comfy day!

    Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      Thanks for those kind words. I’m having a coffee as we speak. Trust me when I say that there are plenty of people in England who can spin a good yarn – if you’re familiar with the phrase. Enjoy your weekend.

      Reply
      1. America On Coffee

        Yep! The spin of good yarn is always a colorful book cover for many popular English literature. And for me, spindles, small villages, castles and tales are all adds to a great cup of coffee. I am looking forward to more of your shares, easymalc. AOC-☕️☕️

        Reply
  2. Francisco Bravo Cabrera

    Great post Malc! And as usual, smashing photographs! A lovely town, sort of reminiscent of many small towns like that I’ve seen in northern France or Belgium…My greetings my friend and I hope you’ve a great weekend!

    Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      Thanks Francesc. I love to hear your comments, and not just because they’re always complimentary. Those Black & White images of yours were fantastic by the way, and I hope you have a fantastic weekend too

      Reply
      1. Francisco Bravo Cabrera

        Thank you Malc. I always enjoy reading your posts to learn a bit more and to delight in your photography…I am glad you liked the black and white illustrations, they are my favourite as well. Take good care and all the best!
        Francesc

        Reply
  3. TheRamblingWombat

    What a lovely village which you have promoted so well. I could certainly spend some time there just ambling around. The Medieval Gallery would certainly appeal to me and that Yarn Market looks beautiful.

    Reply
  4. Alli Templeton

    Firstly, Malc, thank you so much for recommending my website to your friends. That was really kind. 🙂 You’re absolutely right, of course, I’d love the Medieval Gallery. In fact, I’ve never known of a gallery devoted entirely to art inspired by the Middle Ages. Indeed, your introduction to Dunster is enough to inspire anyone to go and visit, and I’m really looking forward to your post about Dunster Castle. Long ago I had a friend who regularly visited the area and he was always full of praise for Dunster. Now I can see why. I love the look of the Yarn Market too, and with all that idyllic countryside on the doorstep, what’s not to love? Thanks again, Malc, and I hope we don’t have to wait too long for your post on the castle. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      I’m more than happy to spread the word about your website Alli because it deserves as wide an audience as possible. I hope you see it the same way – and I couldn’t help but think of you with that Medieval Gallery in the High Street.

      Dunster is most definitely worth a visit, especially as its on the doorstep to some beautiful countryside. As for the castle, I want to go back there now that the NT allows indoor photography, so there’s no point in writing up about it until I do. I want to go back before my membership expires, so hopefully you won’t have too long to wait.

      Reply
      1. Alli Templeton

        Thanks again, Malc. I’m flattered that you think my blog is worth spreading the word about.

        I completely understand the issue with Dunster. I’m the same with English Heritage this year. Owing to the impact all the restrictions have on Nathan we’ve had to let our membership expire for the time being. Still, I look forward to learning about Dunster Castle whenever you are in a position to write about it. I’m sure the interior will be well worth the wait.

        Reply
          1. Alli Templeton

            I prefer English Heritage. For a start, they have all the castles and they’re normally better with special needs kids. I let my NT membership expire a while ago now.

            Reply
  5. Nemorino

    So that’s a Yarn Market. My first guess was that it might have been a communal laundry house, as in some of the older towns in France.
    Are there still doves in the Dovecote? And do you know what the Tithe Barn is used for now?

    Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      I don’t think this Dovecote holds doves nowadays but you’re allowed to go inside. The Tithe Barn has recently been restored and can be hired for various different functions.

      Reply

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